Earl of Anxi Blend from Verdant Tea

earl-of-anxiTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Oolong

Where to Buy:  Verdant Tea

Tea Description:

Traditional Earl Grey is a classic, great for every season. With the Earl of Anxi, we start not with a black tea, but with our Master Zhang’s Hand-Picked Tieguanyin to give the bergamot a sweet, bright base and reinforce the floral citrus notes. We draw out the citrus sweetness with a uniquely creamy and rich orange peel, and crystallize the florals into a prominent position with jasmine blossoms.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

This is really a unique take on Earl Grey – unique but very enjoyable!

What is so remarkable about this blend is how incredibly balanced it is.   This Earl of Anxi has a very balanced fragrance as well as flavor and the result is a very smooth tea.  Unbelievably smooth!

Verdant Tea has found a way to balance all that is unique about Earl Grey to create an uncommonly smooth version of the classic tea.  First, let’s think about the aroma of an Earl Grey tea, because let’s face it, that’s usually the first thing you notice about Earl Grey … that beautiful scent of bergamot!  But the fragrant note of the bergamot is something that is noticeable not just by scent but also distinguishable by taste.  That’s why sometimes bergamot in an Earl Grey can come off as “perfume-y” because one not only smells the heady aroma of the bergamot orange but also tastes it.  Don’t believe me?  Try plugging your nose when you drink Earl Grey and you’ll notice that it tastes different.

The way that the Oolong tea melds with the floral notes of the jasmine and the fruit tones of the orange and goji berry is really remarkable.  It is so creamy and fluid.  Smooth like silk.

To my recollection, I’ve only tried Frankincense in one or two other teas, but based upon my memory of those experiences, I can taste the Frankincense now.  It has a somewhat perfume-ish quality to it, very aromatic and exotic to the nose and to the palate.

The frankincense and saffron offer contrast and balance to the fragrant flavor of the bergamot, as does the jasmine, while the goji berry accentuates the citrus tones.  The oolong offers a creamy taste that is the basis for the smooth flavor and texture of the tea.  It is the conduit for the incredible smoothness of this tea.

A sweet, beautifully balanced, delicately spiced, exotic cup of tea that is so delightful that it is almost impossible to describe.  It is one of those teas that you MUST try to believe.  It’s an amazing tea.

Master Han’s 2014 Wild-Picked Sheng Pu’er Tea from Verdant Tea

master-han-2014Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Pu-erh

Where to Buy:  Verdant Tea

Tea Description:

Master Han is excited to share his fresh, just picked 2014 harvest pu’er. This gorgeous wild-picked, loose leaf sheng pu’er is a unique opportunity to taste the pure, bright flavor notes of a young tea that is full of energy, smooth and absolutely ready to drink.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

Back in March, I reviewed the Master Han’s 2013 Wild-Picked Sheng Pu’er Tea which was included in the February Amoda Tea box.  I really enjoyed that Pu’er, so I was only too happy to sample and review the 2014 offering from Master Han.  I figured if I liked that tea, I’d like this one too.  I’m in good hands with Master Han.

The aroma of the dry leaf is interesting and appealing to me, because it doesn’t have the kind of earthy aroma that I would normally associate with a pu-er.  Even a very young pu-er often has an earthy scent.  And I do smell a slight hint of earthiness, but, it’s not the same type of earthy aroma that I would usually smell with a pu-er.  The usual scent is earthy, as in earth … as in dirt.  But I don’t smell that kind of earthiness here.  This is more like a mossy kind of earthiness, like the kind of fragrance you’d experience if walking through a damp wooded area here in the Pacific Northwest (and we’ve got a lot of damp wooded areas up here).  It’s more vegetal than earthy, and I like that.

The flavor is very refreshing!  It is sweet and mild, tasting very different from what I would normally expect from a pu-er.  Sure, I often expect a sweet and mellow flavor, but, this is just different.  It seems to perk up the taste buds as it washes over the palate, it’s almost like a champagne-y, bubbly type of uplifting flavor.  I’m not getting quite the creamy flavor that I experienced with the 2013 version of this tea.

This time, I taste rice.  Like the sticky rice that I’d get in an inverted bowl shape on my plate at a Chinese food restaurant, with notes of sweet, buttery corn.  Rather than the sweet, creamy notes that I experienced with the 2013 pu-er, I taste more of a sweet, starchy sort of flavor that is quite compelling.  There are some hints of nutty flavors as well, like a creamy cashew flavor – unsalted and not roasted.  I feel like I’m eating rather than sipping, and it’s a very satisfying experience.  This is the tea I’d want to drink if I were feeling hungry and it was still a little while before mealtime.

The second infusion was not quite as softly, creamy sweet from the starchy flavor.  Those flavors are still there, but they are not quite as up front and obvious as they were in the first infusion.  With the first infusion, it was all about those flavors, and this time, they seem to have settled back into the background to allow the palate to explore what other flavors this tea has to offer.

This cup feels thicker in texture, but it’s not as creamy.  It’s more like a soup or a broth this time, whereas the first infusion was more like an infusion of rice, corn and barley.  This infusion has some dry mineral notes to it.  I pick up on some gentle floral tones and some warm spice notes with this infusion as well.

The third infusion delivered another very interesting cup!  This is where some of the promised miso flavors that I read about in the tasting notes on the website came through.  Still a delightfully brothy cup, I’m picking up on some savory notes this time around.  I taste more of the aforementioned sweet corn notes too which is a nice contrast to the savory broth notes.  There is still some of the dry, mineral notes as well, but they are less prevalent now.

Each infusion seems to deliver a deeper flavor with some new profiles to discover, but with subtle reminders of what was experienced in the earlier infusions.  This tea is truly an adventure waiting to be be taken.  If you are one who is curious to try pu-er, this is a good place to start for the simple reason that it doesn’t possess some of the characteristics that often turn people off when it comes to pu-er.  And if you’re an experienced pu-er drinker, this is one you should try if for no other reason than to experience the quality of Master Han and Verdant Tea.

Master Han’s 2013 Sheng Pu-er Tea from Verdant Tea

Master-HanTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Pu-erh

Where to Buy:  Verdant Tea

Tea Description:

Beautifully complex, this young pu’er is creamy with citrus notes and a floral finish. Steep small and short infusions up to 10 times and experience this tea transforming on your tastebuds. Starting sweet, this brand new pu’er develops woody and nut characteristics. Enjoy the bright astringency of this tea as it layers over each steeping.

Learn more about this tea here.

Learn more about subscribing to Amoda’s Monthly Tea Tasting Box here.

Taster’s Review:

Yeah, I’m really behind on the February teas from my Amoda Tea Tasting Box!  I’ve already received my box for March, and I haven’t finished sampling the teas from February!  This Pu-er Tea from Verdant Tea – Master Han’s 2013 Sheng – is the last from my February box.

I guess it just goes to show how I tend to procrastinate when it comes to pu-erh teas.  And I really shouldn’t, because I have enjoyed most of the pu-erh teas that I’ve tried in the last couple of years.  After learning the proper way (or at least the proper way for ME) to brew a pu-erh, I’ve come to appreciate a good pu-erh.  And this one from Verdant is a good one!

Then again, I can’t think of a time when I’ve been disappointed by Verdant Tea!

This pu-erh is quite special.  The aroma is not at all what I’d expect from a pu-erh.  Usually, I detect some earthy notes – even from a young Sheng – but, all I smell here is a strong vegetative note that falls somewhere between kelp and steamed spinach.

After a quick rinse, the first infusion was steeped for 1 minute.  Normally, I would go for just 30 – 45 minutes, but, I got distracted and it steeped for a full minute.  This cup was light and refreshing!  Sweet!  It has a creaminess to it that I don’t recall ever experiencing with a pu-erh tea.  There is a distant nutty tone to this, and a crisp, bright citrus note.

My second cup (also infused for 1 minute) has a stronger flavor.  There is a slight floral note to this cup – again, not a flavor I’d usually associate with a pu-erh – and it is somewhat sharp.  This cup is less creamy and delicate than the first was.  I can also taste the woodsy notes start to develop and the distant nutty tone start to emerge.

Subsequent infusions brought those woodsy notes forward, and the warm, sweet nutty flavors were more pronounced.  The citrus notes were still present in the third cup, but by the fourth cup, I couldn’t find them without really focusing on the flavors swirling around on the palate.  The fruit notes seem to have melded with the other notes.  The same is true of the creamy notes that I noticed in the first two cups.

Most of the flavors started to taste more mellow and unified with the third cup and this seemed to continue with the infusions that would follow.  The floral notes were delicate in the third cup, but I really enjoyed their presence.  I liked the slight sharpness and the contrast it brought to the cup.

Despite my misgivings about having a Pu-erh in my Amoda Tea box for February … I really enjoyed this.  I shouldn’t have been so apprehensive – it is, after all, a tea from Verdant Tea!